All hail the SEC. Again.
No. 1 LSU (13-0) will take on No. 2 Alabama (11-1) at 8:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 9, at the Superdome in New Orleans. The winner will claim the sixth straight national championship for the SEC and will be allowed another smug offseason of braggadocio for their rabid Southern fanbase.
LSU and Alabama were awarded a spot in this game mainly because they hail from the nation’s premier college football conference. The Tigers have earned their spot by virtue of huge non-conference wins over Oregon and West Virginia, as well as their SEC West and overall SEC titles.
Alabama is a controversial participant in this championship game. They were essentially voted in despite the fact that they finished second in the SEC West, have no marquee non-conference wins (other than beating a mediocre Penn State squad) and already lost to LSU once this year. It has also been said that Alabama’s selection has more to do with generating television ratings than it does of actually pitting the two most deserving teams against one another.
This game marks the first time in the 13-year history of the BCS that two teams from the same conference will play for the title.
This game is a rematch of a heavily-hyped regular-season matchup back on Nov. 5. LSU won that game, 9-6, in overtime at Tuscaloosa in a game that was obviously dominated by defense. The teams mustered just 534 combined yards and four turnovers in a snoozer. All of the scoring came from the kickers: LSU’s Drew Alleman went 3-for-3 with his field goal attempts while Alabama’s Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley combined to go just 2-for-6.
The books have set on of the lowest totals in BCS Championship Game history and the bobblehead media is predicting another low-scoring contest. With perhaps the two best defenses in the country, which are both littered with future pro players, that is a reasonable expectation.
If history and matchups are indicators, then this one should be both low-scoring and tight. The last two LSU-Alabama games have been decided by a field goal (both LSU wins) and four of the last six meetings have been determined by a touchdown or less.
Both teams have punched their ways to this title game on the strength of dominating defenses and power running games. Alabama will lean on Heisman finalist Trent Richardson, who rushed for 1,583 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. Richardson was held to just 89 yards on 23 carriers in the first matchup by LSU’s No. 3-ranked rushing defense.
LSU is No. 17 in the nation in rushing offense and utilizes several different featured backs. They have four rushers with at least 300 yards rushing and at least seven touchdowns. They pounded Alabama’s No. 1-ranked rush defense for 143 yards on 41 rushes in the first meetings.
This game features two of the most talented rosters in all of college football and several future NFL players. However, the focus heading into this game is squarely on the marquee coaching matchup of Nick Saban against Les Miles.
Miles is 3-2 straight up in his career against Nick Saban and is 5-2 SU against Alabama. Also, Miles is 18-3 straight up since 2005 when he has extra time to prepare. That includes wins over Oregon and Alabama this year with at least two weeks to prep.
Saban is 54-12 in his time with Alabama, but he is just 3-3 after a bye week. He is 13-11 in his career with extra time to prepare and is 6-6 in his career in bowl games.
The Crimson Tide lost the initial matchup this season despite having a distinct home-field advantage. But now the tables are turned, even though this is supposed to be a “neutral” site. LSU is playing in its backyard in Louisiana and should expect to benefit from a very pro-Tigers crowd.
2012 BCS Championship Game Odds
The spread on this game has really undergone an interesting movement. LSU opened as a one-point favorite in this game and has taken nearly 70 percent of all of the betting action in this game.
But the line has actually gone the other way, with Alabama currently a one-point favorite, according to college football odds. That is a reverse line movement and indicates all of the sharp movement is down on the Crimson Tide.
The total in this game opened at 39.0 but has since trended upward. It is presently around 40.0 or 40.5 at most books.
2012 BCS Championship Game Betting Trends
Alabama is 4-0 ATS in their last four neutral site games.
LSU is 5-1 ATS in their last six bowl games.
LSU is 5-0 SU in its last five games
The total has gone OVER in four of LSU's last six games
LSU is 2-3-2 ATS in its last seven games when playing Alabama
LSU is 7-2 SU in its last nine games when playing Alabama
2012 BCS Championship Game Predictions
Last year, I was one of the few college football analysts predicting a low-scoring BCS Championship Game between Oregon and Auburn. The total was set at 74.0 and everyone was expecting a shootout between two of the most explosive offenses in the country. But I was right, and the 41 total points made it the second-lowest scoring title game in a decade.
This year, I think I am going in the opposite direction. I think that this game is going to defy the public expectation—which is another defensive slugfest—and will be both a blowout and a game that destroys the total. I believe that both coaches will be a bit more aggressive offensively and that we could see some scoring out of either of the defenses or the special teams units.
I also think that LSU has the experience edge and they will get a boost from playing in Louisiana. Yes, they were outgained and a bit lucky to win at Alabama earlier this year. But I think they have an edge at the quarterback position and, with all other things being equal, the factors that the Tigers have working in their favor should leave them as the clear favorite.
2012 BCS Championship Game Free Pick: Take #270 LSU (+1) over Alabama
Doc Moseman is the owner of Doc's Sports football picks Web site.
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